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​Immigration History: Books/Articles

Asian Pacific American Studies Research Guide (NYU Libraries)
Compiled by Andrew Lew, NYU Librarian for History, in consulation with Alexandra Chang, Ruby Gómez, J. Hutchenson, Wei Chi Poon, Dean Saranillio, and Jack Tchen. Organized with separate tabs by specific Asian/Pacific American communities, with an additional tab for websites focused on Asian American history. 

Roots: An Asian American Reader (1971)
Roots: An Asian American Reader was the first of over 200 books that the UCLA Asian American Studies Center Press has produced in the past 35 years. Intended for college classroom use, Roots was the standard textbook for Asian American Studies courses throughout the nation for many years, and went through twelve printings, and sold over 50,000 copies. A mix of essays, poems, and scholarly and political pieces, it was also the first published anthology focused on Asian Americans.

Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics (1996)
In Immigrant Acts, Lisa Lowe argues that understanding Asian immigration to the United States is fundamental to understanding the racialized economic and political foundations of the nation. Lowe discusses the contradictions whereby Asians have been included in the workplaces and markets of the U.S. nation-state, yet, through exclusion laws and bars from citizenship, have been distanced from the terrain of national culture.

Strangers from A Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans (1998)
In an extraordinary blend of narrative history, personal recollection, and oral testimony, the author presents a sweeping history of Asian Americans. He writes of the Chinese who laid tracks for the transcontinental railroad, of plantation laborers in the canefields of Hawaii, of "picture brides" marrying strangers in the hope of becoming part of the American dream. He tells stories of Japanese Americans behind the barbed wire of U.S. internment camps during World War II, Hmong refugees tragically unable to adjust to Wisconsin's alien climate and culture, and Asian American students stigmatized by the stereotype of the "model minority."

Asian/American: Historical Crossings of a Racial Frontier (1999)
This book argues that the invention of Asian American identities serves as an index to the historical formation of modern America. By tracing constructions of "Asian American" to an interpenetrating dynamic between Asia and America, the author obtains a deeper understanding of key issues in American culture, history, and society.

Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People (2001)
This groundbreaking book is about the transformation of Asian Americans from a few small, disconnected, and largely invisible ethnic groups into a self-identified racial group that is influencing every aspect of American society. It explores the junctures that shocked Asian Americans into motion and shaped a new consciousness, including the murder of Vincent Chin, a Chinese American, by two white autoworkers who believed he was Japanese; the apartheid-like working conditions of Filipinos in the Alaska canneries; the boycott of Korean American greengrocers in Brooklyn; the Los Angeles riots; and the casting of non-Asians in the Broadway musical Miss Saigon. The book also examines the rampant stereotypes of Asian Americans.

The Transnational Politics of Asian Americans (2004)
As America’s most ethnically diverse foreign-born population, Asian Americans can puzzle political observers. This volume’s multidisciplinary team of contributors employ a variety of methodologies—including quantitative, ethnographic, and historical—to illustrate how transnational ties between the U.S. and Asia have shaped, and are increasingly defining, Asian American politics in our multicultural society. Original essays by U.S.- and Asian-based scholars discuss Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese communities from Boston to Honolulu. The volume also shows how the grassroots activism of America’s “newest minority” both reflects and is instrumental in broader processes of political change throughout the Pacific. 

A Different Mirror for Young People: A History of Multicultural America (2012)
Now Rebecca Stefoff, who adapted Howard Zinn’s best-selling A People’s History of the United States for younger readers, turns the updated 2008 edition of Takaki’s multicultural masterwork into A Different Mirror for Young People. Drawing on Takaki’s vast array of primary sources, and staying true to his own words whenever possible, A Different Mirror for Young People brings ethnic history alive through the words of people, including teenagers, who recorded their experiences in letters, diaries, and poems. Like Zinn’s A People’s History, Takaki’s A Different Mirror offers a rich and rewarding “people’s view” perspective on the American story.

The Making of Asian America (2015)
The Making of Asian America shows how generations of Asian immigrants and their American-born descendants have made and remade Asian American life, from sailors who came on the first trans-Pacific ships in the 1500 to the Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II. Over the past fifty years, a new Asian America has emerged out of community activism and the arrival of new immigrants and refugees. No longer a “despised minority,” Asian Americans are now held up as America’s “model minorities” in ways that reveal the complicated role that race still plays in the United States. See also this collection of articles written by Dr. Lee

The Good Immigrants: How the Yellow Peril Became the Model Minority (2017)
Conventionally, US immigration history has been understood through the lens of restriction and those who have been barred from getting in. In contrast, The Good Immigrants considers immigration from the perspective of Chinese elites—intellectuals, businessmen, and students—who gained entrance because of immigration exemptions. Exploring a century of Chinese migrations, Madeline Hsu looks at how the model minority characteristics of many Asian Americans resulted from US policies that screened for those with the highest credentials in the most employable fields, enhancing American economic competitiveness.

Asian American History: A Very Short Introduction (2017)
Asians have migrated to North America for centuries, in search of opportunities and conveyed by increasingly dense, international circuits of trade, labor markets, and family networks. Asians joined a diverse array of immigrants arriving in capacities as diverse merchants, farmers, soldiers, missionaries, soldiers, artists, and students. They contributed significantly to the massive transformation of the United States into the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world, particularly on the west coast and Hawaii. Asian American History: A Very Short Introduction highlights how Asian immigration has shaped the evolution of ideological and legal interpretations of America as a “nation of immigrants.”